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The Evolution of Trucking: How Technology Is Affecting Long Haul Drivers

by Martha Simmonds
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In the olden days, what was close to trucking was the use of horse-drawn wagons and steam-powered trucks. Since then, many developments have occurred. Today, long haul drivers are vital in transporting goods across the country.  As such, deadlines are met, stores are stocked and online orders are delivered on time.

Trucking continues to experience major technological shifts. This article highlights how the shifts are changing the landscape, making life on the road safer for truck drivers.

The Rise of GPS Navigation

In the past, truck drivers relied on paper maps and their knowledge of the road to navigate long-haul journeys. In recent times, however, the GPS navigation system has become an indispensable tool for truck drivers. GPS uses satellites to pinpoint the location of a truck and provide turn-by-turn directions to its destination. This technology has made navigation more precise and less stressful.

Before GPS, truck drivers had to pull over frequently to consult paper maps or ask for directions. That wasted valuable time and sometimes led them to get lost.

All of that has changed since the inception of GPS. Drivers can now focus on driving without worrying about getting lost. The systems help drivers avoid unsuitable sections by considering the vehicle’s size and weight.

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

Truck drivers are subject to strict regulations limiting the number of hours they can drive daily. Electronic logging devices (ELDs) have become mandatory in most commercial trucks to ensure compliance with these regulations. ELDs track a driver’s service hours electronically, which has replaced the old paper logbooks that were easily manipulated.

ELDs have made the job of drivers more transparent and accountable. They help drivers to avoid driving excessive hours and reduce the risk of fatigue-related accidents. In addition to that, ELDs provide accurate records of a driver’s activities, which can be helpful in case of disputes or accidents.

Automated Driving Systems

One of the most significant technological advancements in long-haul trucking is the development of automated driving systems. These systems, often referred to as “self-driving trucks,” have the potential to revolutionize the industry. Semi-autonomous trucks can assist drivers with lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control and automated braking tasks. These technologies make long drives easier for truck drivers.

They also enhance safety by reducing the risk of human error. However, it’s important to note that even semi-autonomous trucks still require a human driver to be present and alert behind the wheel.

However, the introduction of automated driving systems has sparked debates about the future of long-distance trucking jobs. While some have raised concerns about the potential job loss, others argue it will create new roles in maintaining and overseeing these advanced systems.

Improved Connectivity on the Road

Long-distance drivers spend considerable time on the road, often far from their homes and loved ones. Technological advancements have made connecting with the outside world easier and more convenient.

Truck cabs now have satellite internet that allows drivers to communicate with their families and friends. That is not all, however. Smartphones and mobile apps have been very beneficial as well. Drivers can use navigation apps to find nearby truck stops and rest areas. They can also use the apps to order food for delivery in the comfort of their cabs.

Social media and video calling apps also help drivers combat loneliness and stay in touch with their loved ones during long trips. Improved connectivity enhances truck drivers’ quality of life and supports their safety and efficiency.

Drivers can receive real-time traffic updates, weather alerts, and maintenance reminders through their devices. That helps them make informed decisions on the road.

Environmental Sustainability

As concerns about environmental sustainability grow, the trucking industry is adapting to become more eco-friendly. New technologies are being developed to reduce the carbon footprint. One notable advancement is the development of electric and hybrid trucks.

Electric trucks produce zero emissions and are quieter than traditional diesel-powered trucks. While electric truck technology is still in its early stages, it holds promise for reducing air and noise pollution. Alternative fuels such as natural gas and hydrogen are being explored as cleaner options for long-haul transportation.

Advanced Safety Systems

Modern trucks have various safety features, such as collision avoidance systems and lane departure warnings. These technologies help drivers avoid accidents and maintain safe driving practices. Collision avoidance systems use sensors and cameras to detect obstacles or other vehicles in a truck’s path.

The system can automatically alert or apply the brakes if a potential collision is detected. Lane departure warnings usually let the driers know if they drift out of their lane, reducing the risk of side-swipe accidents. Adaptive cruise control adjusts a truck’s speed to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front.

Conclusion

In the prevailing technological revolution. long-haul trucking has not remained the same. The technological advancements that have happened have made life on the road safer and more comfortable for truck drivers.

While technology brings many benefits, it also raises questions about the future of the industry and the role of human drivers. Ultimately, balancing automation and truck drivers’ essential role is crucial.

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